Intended to arm the ‘Euro-canards’ (Gripen, Rafale and Typhoon) and possibly integrate into the RAF’s JSFs, the MBDA Meteor ramjet-powered missile is taking giant strides towards service entry. Recent successful guided firings have paved the way for trials of production-representative missiles, keeping the program on track for an in-service date of 2013.
JAS 39 Gripen
Switzerland is in the market for about 20 new fighters to progressively replace its remaining F-5 fleet. In a preliminary evaluation, the defense ministry pre-
Saab achieved the first flight of the Gripen Demo from the company’s Linköping airfield in Sweden on May 27. Crewed by test pilots Mikael Siedl and Magnus Ljungdahl, the flawless 30-minute flight marked the start of a three-year campaign, during which the fighter will demonstrate a wide range of new technologies destined for the Gripen Next Generation aircraft, as well as options for existing models.
Within the span of a month, Saab is rolling out two new developments with export potential. On March 27, the first Saab 2000 twin-turboprop airliner to be modified with the Erieye Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) system made its public debut. Later this month, Saab’s upgraded Gripen fighter will emerge.
The technical and technology transfer bids for one of the biggest-ever fighter deals of recent times are due for delivery in 11 days time. Six prime contractors chase India’s Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) requirement for 126 aircraft with an option for 64 more. The contenders are the Boeing F/A-18, Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, Lockheed Martin F-16, MiG-35 and Saab Gripen.
Following the signing of a contract by the Kingdom of Thailand for six fighters, Saab is celebrating the capture of its first Gripen customer in the region. The deal also covers the supply of two Saab 340 twin-turboprop airliners, one configured with the Saab Microwave Systems Erieye radar for airborne early warning. Thailand plans to use the other for training and transport.
Some international partners in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program could delay signing up for production airplanes until 2013. George Standridge, Lockheed Martin F-35 vice president for business development, said that funding of long-lead items would be required 36 months before first flight, with a larger down-payment due 12 months later.
Eurofighter has withdrawn the Typhoon from competitions for a new combat aircraft to replace F-16s in Denmark and Norway. Both countries are partners in the U.S.-led Lightning (Joint Strike Fighter) program but are considering alternatives before committing to production F-35s.
The choice of a multi-role fighter aircraft for the Polish air force could result in the launch of a “private jet” in Poland, depending on the offset proposals of the winning bidder. In competition are Lockheed Martin (F-16), SAAB-British Aerospace (Gripen) and Dassault Aviation (Mirage 2000). The contract is expected to be signed in the first quarter of this year and the offset agreements are required to be signed within 60 days after that.
For business jets operating in potentially hostile areas, Sweden’s Saab might soon offer some protection. The company’s Avitronics division is hoping to receive EASA certification within the next eight months for its Civil Aircraft Missile Protection System (Camps). The company claims the defense system–based on countermeasures already in use on military aircraft–is the only such European system for civil aircraft.